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Bitter Root Land Trust Dan and Brody Severson

Stevensville resident Dan Severson and his grandson, Brody, in a shot from the film “On the Shoulders of Giants.” Dan Severson will be at the showing on Saturday.

The Bitter Root Land Trust is hosting “big sky on the BIG screen,” a film event that celebrates working lands in Montana and the Bitterroot, on April 22.

The event is in partnership with Bitterroot Audubon, Montana Association of Land Trusts and Heart of the Rockies Initiative.

The audience will see three films.

“The whole idea of the evening is to celebrate lands in the Bitterroot, Montana and the Rocky Mountains,” said Emy Royce, program administrator for Bitter Root Land Trust. “Together each of these films tells the story of how we are all open to open lands and really hones in on all the players that have made these contributions possible including landowners, ranchers and land trusts.”

The first film is “High Divide” by the Heart of the Rockies Initiative. It is a short film about the ranchers, biologists and forest managers that play a role in stewardship of the high divide land.

The second film, “Bitterroot Valley Winter Eagle Study” by Kate Stone is shown in partnership with the Bitterroot Audubon.

“Using game cameras she was studying the eagles that were coming into the Bitterroot Valley over the winter,” Royce said. “She found out about eagle behavior and the other animals that were coming.  It is awesome.”

The last film is by Montana Association of Land Trusts, an organization of 12 land trusts, who partnered with a film maker and Montana Department of Commerce to create “On the Shoulders of Giants.”

“That tells the story of land conservation in Montana over the last 40 years,” Royce said. “It is very personal and about people that started land conservation in the Blackfoot in the 1970s and how it’s grown from two landowners to 12 land trusts across Montana.”

Stevensville resident Dan Severson is central to the film and will be at the showing on Saturday.

“‘On the Shoulders of Giants’ really gets at the heart of how local this is all happening and it puts what’s happening in our own backyard in the context of what is happening in Montana and the larger landscape of the Rocky Mountain area,” Royce said.

Both “High Divide” and “On the Shoulders of Giants” are told first person by landowners and stewards.

“They tell why they love the land,” Royce said. “Everyone who watches will connect with the film in some way when they hear the stories.”

Doors open for the Bitter Root Land Trust’s “big sky on the BIG screen” event at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, in the Mary Stuart Rogers Performing Arts Center in Victor School. Admission is free and the film premier begins at 6 p.m.

“After the showing we will walk over to Cowboy Troy’s who is hosting us and donating a portion of sales of food and drink to the land trust for the support of conservation of working lands in the Bitterroot,” Royce said. “A key point is that this is the one and only showing event and if you miss it, you miss it. This is our showing for the Bitterroot and our chance to share it with our community.”

Royce said she appreciates John Orvish, technical director of the MSR PAC, and thanks him for his time and technical expertise behind the scenes.

“There is something for everyone with these films,” Royce said. “I think people will connect to these films. Whether it is the open space, the wildlife or the working lands there is something for everyone who loves this place. The event is sure to pull on the heartstrings, it’s interesting and it’s free. ”

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